(First Published at http://amywalkerconsulting.com/blog/ on February 4, 2014)
Ahhh, the Hecklers, the Know-It-Alls, and the Doubters. They are not our favorite people to sell to. I definitely prefer hearing, “This is exactly what I’ve been searching for!” But in every event you are going to have a tricky person to sell to. I know speakers and trainers who just let them go and work with the excited ones. You can do that. I also know that I have had some that were stinkers during the sales process and ended up being my most loyal and long running clients. I’ve also closed stinkers who turned into stinker clients. The key is to know which ones you need to let go and which ones really need you.
Why are they stinkers?
Most human beings are good and it is in our nature to protect ourselves. When you come across crusty people, they are usually nursing some type of hurt. Hecklers have often been through rejection or ridicule and had to laugh their way out of it; Know-It-Alls often can’t handle being weak and imperfect; and Doubters have often been taken advantage of in the process. The first step to handling a tough sale is to try to understand them and think of them as a good person.
The Heckler: Makes Jokes, derails the presentation, asks completely irrelevant questions etc.
Remember that hecklers like to see you sweat. They like pushing buttons. The easiest way to handle a heckler is to get them on your side. Laugh with them. Joke with them. Understand that they want to be seen and heard, and treat them with kindness. When they like you, they will also sometimes be the most outspoken proponents of your products.
The Know-it-All: Everything is great in their life, they don’t need help, every time you get close to finding their pain or problem they will block you
Know-it-alls have a hard time showing weakness. They are usually strong and are used to doing things on their own. They do not want to feel incompetent or wrong. If you keep pushing to figure out their problems, they will put up wall after wall after wall. When I come across these situations, I pull back and invite them to tell me what they see that isn’t working. If they come up with nothing, I ask them what they want that they don’t have and then I ask permission to help them come up with solutions to get there.
Doubters: Second guess you and your product. Want proof. Treat you like you are trying to pull one over.
NEVER sell this person into a product or service, you have to let them choose into it. If you talk them into it, they will inevitable blame you for why their life has gone all wrong! Ask them if they have had a negative experience before. Listen to them and ask questions like, “What do you need from me so that this is a different experience?” Keep asking them, “What else do you need to know before you can decide if this is right for you?” Give them any type of reassurance they ask for. If they want references, let them call your clients. If they want facts, show them where to find it. Your job in this situation is to inform where ever they need it and continue to invite them to get more answers until they have no more questions. Then you ask for the sale.
When to RUN!
Anyone that has worked with a pain in the butt client knows they make your life miserable. Some of my favorite clients and people have fit into these 3 categories in the beginning. But if they can’t pass my test, I will not work with them. My test is simple. Can they take accountability for themselves, or do they blame others? If they blame others, they will blame me. If they can take accountability I know we will be able to work together as soon as they are ready and I will move forward. If not, I bust out of that sales call as soon as possible!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Amy Walker is an International Executive Business Coach and CEO/Founder of Amy Walker Consulting. As a Featured Professional Speaker she has shared the stage with some of the top names in the industry including Willie Jolley and Delatorro L. McNeal II. Amy is a Master of Sales and has written sales scripts for billion dollar companies and organizations. She has been regularly featured on television, radio, and print. Amy is passionate about Women in Business, Making Businesses Thrive, and Balancing Business and Family. She is the happily married mother of 5 boys.
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Thank you for this valuable and entertaining article, Amy! Taking accountability for what happens in our work and in our lives is a HUGE step in professional maturity. Unfortunately for me most of my clients are not yet at the stage where they realize that they both are responsible for what’s happening to them, and have the power to change it. That’s what I help them realize in my work, so sometimes I just have to risk working with “stinkers”!